CURWENSVILLE – It is year number five for Curwensville Area High School girls basketball coach Rusty McCracken and with that comes perhaps the highest of expectations for the Lady Tide in several years.
Looking to improve upon last season’s best campaign for McCracken are five letter winners in seniors Abby Dugo, Tierra Shope and Kealy Wassil along with juniors Ciara Strickland and Heather Thorp. However, the bulk of the roster, mostly underclassmen, will need to provide some depth for Curwensville to be successful.
The Lady Tide finished the 2012-13 year at 9-15, losing to Kane in the District 9 AA playoffs.
Gone from that squad are Rebecca Johnson, Tiffany Carter, Bailey Dale and Katrina Seaburn.
McCracken spoke about the keys of success, saying, “Our success this year depends on our ability to play defense in the early going of the season. We have limited offensive output returning, and until we get our offense on track, we have to work harder on the defensive end of the court. Ciara Strickland will be the target of every defense we face, as she has been our leading scorer for the last two seasons. Teams will look to shut her down and force the other girls to step up their game.”
The Lady Tide coach then added, “It’s never going to be easy to keep Ciara from scoring, she continued to work hard in the off season and is stronger and quicker coming into this year. Other letter winners looking to make an impact early in the season include Heather Thorp, Tierra Shope, Abby Dugo and Kealy Wassil. The five returners are the only experienced upper classmen we have, and I have to look to them for leadership on and off the court.”
Eleven players are from the sophomore and freshmen classes and McCracken knows their importance, “With the majority of the team in the freshmen and sophomore classes, however, I also have to push some players into the waters and see if they will be able to swim. Sophomore Shauna Guy and freshmen Hannah Dixon and Christine Limbert have shown favorable play in the pre-season practices. Their real job right now is to get comfortable with our offensive and defensive schemes to be able to step into their roles as contributors.”
As far as who is playing where on the floor McCracken said “Shope, Wassil, Guy and Limbert will work the inside positions while Strickland, Thorp, Dugo and Dixon will handle the point and wing spots. Sophomores Kayli Sedgwick and Katie Evans will also vie for court time on the varsity squad.”
McCracken closed talking about the potential of his squad, “I do have high expectations for this season. I think the nucleus we can put together will compete well in both of our leagues. I hope we can come out of the gate with some success to build off of, but I’m sure our opponents will have something different in mind. It should be fun.”
The fun begins for the Lady Tide on Monday when they travel to Amesville to play the Lady Damsels of Moshannon Valley in the season opener. Junior varsity action starts at 6 pm with the varsity to immediately follow.
SENIORS: *Abby Dugo, *Tierra Shope, *Kealy Wassil
JUNIORS: Domonique Newkirk, *Ciara Strickland, *Heather Thorp
SOPHOMORES: Shauna Guy, Katie Evans, Kristina McCracken, Kayli Sedgwick
FRESHMAN: Hope Cowder, Hannah Dixon, Selena Goodrow, Hannah Hoover, Christine Limbert, Shianne Stiles, Nichole Wormuth
* DENOTES LETTER WINNER
DECEMBER – 9 at Moshannon Valley, 10 at Brockway, 13 RIDGWAY, 16 at Harmony (Varsity only – Game time 6:30 pm), 20 KANE, 27 CLEARFIELD
JANUARY – 3 at DuBois Central Catholic, 6 at West Branch, 7 JOHNSONBURG, 10 MOSHANNON VALLEY, 13 HARMONY, 15 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC, 20 at Glendale, 21 at Ridgway,
24 BROCKWAY, 27 DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC , 31 at Johnsonburg
FEBRUARY – 3 GLENDALE, 4 SHEFFIELD, 7 at Kane, 10 at Clearfield, 12 WEST BRANCH
HOME GAMES IN CAPS. ALL JUNIOR VARSITY (JV) GAMES START AT 6 PM UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. VARSITY GAMES START 15 MINUTES AFTER JV CONTEST.